Posts Tagged ‘training’

I love going to movies. And it doesn’t really matter what’s playing. It’s a great chance to sit back and be entertained for a couple of hours. Sometimes the product is great and other times it was just a fun way to step away from training and work and relax for bit.

Recently I went and saw Moneyball with Brad Pitt. I thought this was a great show but I can understand why some baseball fans would be put off by the story. If you haven’t seen it here’s a quick synopsis.

Oakland is a small market MLB team with the same aspirations of every other team in the league which is to win a World Series. However the constraints of playing in a smaller marker mean less revenue is available to draw, sign and keep the top talent in the game.

As the A’s continue to lose top level players to free agency and fat pay cheques elsewhere they begin using a new system for building a team. They start selecting players based on a computer program that identifies on base percentage, amongst other things. Oh yeah, the program also breaks down the statistics of the players with their contracts so it becomes very clear to choose undervalued players, based on this computer model, and build a successful team.

In the end A’s are quite successful with this approach but never win it all. Other teams notice what they are doing and begin drafting, trading and signing players based on this method also.

But would this work in hockey?

Could you use a computer program to build the best team possible for the best value? These goals translate all sports. It doesn’t matter the game. Every owner and GM is trying to win a championship without having to break the bank.

If we were to build this computer program to identify the best, hidden talent out there what would we want to put on the list?

Now let’s remember for a second that we need to find players that may become great one day but are available for a dime. So we can’t load up on Ovechkins or Crosbys. The problem with these types of players is that everyone knows they are awesome and therefore we can’t afford them.

So what attributes do we look for in a player to find untapped potential?

Do we look for the best physical specimens? Or the ones who put team first?

Where do you start when putting your list together? Can you find players in ECHL such as Alex Burrows who will one day play on the top line of a Stanley Cup finalist team?

Are there any other Zetterberg’s out there available for the draft?

Recently a research article identified a number of physical characteristics that translate to on-ice performance at the NHL level. Do we simply evaluate potential players to see how they score on these abilities?

What would you do if you were the GM of an NHL team and were given the task of creating a moneyball system for hockey? What would your list of criteria look like? And in addition to the criteria you identify give an example of a player you would draft, sign or go after to have on your team.

I look forward to your answers in the comments section.


There’s an expression in sports that ‘you play, you pay’ meaning that injuries are bound to happen with enough time and at a high enough level. Obviously we want to prevent the non-contact injuries as much as possible but there’s still a chance that you may experience an injury.
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Hi there: For today’s post I want you to consider something that applies to everything you do in life. It definitely applies to school, finances, careers, relationships and also to performance in hockey. And not only is this one thing so vital to everything you do in life it is one of the most overlooked aspects in our efforts. For some this one thing could be the difference maker between having an average career in hockey and going pro. It could be the difference between mediocrity and excellence. Are you ready to learn what this one thing is that can influence the ultimate success you have in hockey? Alright then read on and I’ll tell you.
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It’s pretty much accepted in athletic training circles to go through a thorough warm-up prior to training or competition. I mean other than the meat heads that do their beach workouts, most athletes will spend some time warming up. In the industry we are all aware that warm-ups are beneficial for a number of reasons but until you actually compare a workout with and without a thorough warm-up it can difficult to tell the difference. This was the case last Saturday when I met some hockey players for a sand dune conditioning workout.

One of the players had asked to leave early for a previous commitment. It was a family commitment and he did ask ahead of time so I thought I would allow it this time. Now we wouldn’t have a lot of time to workout so we got right to it.

Before I carry on I have to say that I definitely don’t advocate training without a complete and thorough warm-up. And by warm-up I mean foam rolling, general warm-up on a bike or a light jog, a dynamic warm-up, some mobility drills for the ankles, hips and t-spine, some core activations and anything that may be necessary to get everything ready to do some work.

As well, we went straight into the workout because I know this athlete, I know how his body moves, I know his fitness level and his training history. Combine this with the fact the sand dunes would be uphill and thus take out the effects of gravity. As well the soft, deep sand cushions his strides as he climbs the hill.

So we proceeded into the workout. Again we are in a conditioning phase of the training so nothing was explosive or high tempo. Basically just an early morning workout that is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I say that because at the bottom of the dune the heart rate begins to climb before we’ve even taken one step. The sympathetic nervous is doing its job and heart rate begins to climb as a result.

As we round the top of the dune I make of the players’ time and we begin the descent down gravel path back to the start. The one player heads off for his function and we meet up with the rest of the group just showing up.

So some of players in this first group are going to do the climb a second time. They didn’t know this was the plan. And they don’t like the idea of doing it a second time. They did the first climb as though it was the last difficult training task for the day and weekend. Now they find out they have to do it all over a second time.

For the second attempt we run back up the gravel path for a few minutes. For there we get into a dynamic warm-up, some leg swings, a few skip drills and finish with some acceleration drills. After walking back to the start it’s time for a quick sip of water and ascent number 2.

On the second attempt the group averaged 15% faster than the first attempt. I was shocked! I didn’t expect the effects of a proper warm-up to transfer so effectively to a conditioning workout. Especially on a pre-fatigued group. Usually in the literature the benefits are portrayed as the ability to generate power. For example, a quick check of the recent research articles put out by the NSCA looks at the effect of dynamic warm-ups on jumping, agility, sprinting or anything else that is powerful and of short duration. Basically the exact opposite of a sand dune workout.

So what’s the point of all this? Well basically it reaffirms what we are doing. And it reinforces the necessity of dynamic warm-up prior to all training. I’d also go so far as to say that if pressed for time I would ensure a thorough warm-up at the expense of cutting a set or two on the training room floor rather than vice versa.


There’s an expression when it comes to strength and conditioning that ‘if you’re not assessing you’re guessing’. This makes a lot of sense when you stop and think about it. Imagine taking a trip and not knowing where you’re starting out from. How will you get there? How long will it take? What is the best way to get there? There are so many variables that come into play with such a decision it makes it so much harder if not impossible when we don’t even know our starting point.

But the assessments we make shouldn’t end when we start training. We continually record loads used during workouts, days of rest, fluctuations in volume and many other factors during training. This allows us to fine tune as we go, make adjustments and see what is working and what could be improved.

And take this a step further and imagine being able to assess your players during a game? How important would it be to know which players are ‘in the zone’ and which ones are having off-days? Sure you can tell who is having a good game but can you tell who is 2 or 3% above normal? Or who is 2 or 3% below what they are normally capable of? Pretty hard to tell isn’t it? But when you think about it the highest level of sport is usually decided by the smallest of increments.

Hockey training is this specific already. At the 2010 Olympics the US women’s hockey team were not only were assessed prior, during and at the conclusion of their training they were also being assessed during the Olympics. Each member of this team was wearing a heart rate monitor that could be read by the coaching staff. During the gold medal game it was reported that the US players were working 20% harder than any of their other games.

Imagine how useful it would be to know how your players are feeling? Who’s suffering the most? Who’s recovering the quickest? Should you shorten shifts? Can you leave your top centre out there to win another face off? If you’re down a d-man who can pick up the extra ice time?

It will be interesting to see how many teams will now start to implement this strategy as well. When the competition is getting that much tighter this might be a  way for teams seeking the an advantage to come out on top. With minimal investment in time and money this would an ideal way to train smarter and give your team the best chance possible.